The Gator line probably has not gotten quite the praise it deserves. They likely won't have an All-SEC performer this year, they don't have a cool nickname. All they have done is pave the way for a thousand-yard runner, 424 yards a game in total offense, 35 points a game while allowing just 12 quarterback sacks.… all best in the SEC
They face their greatest challenge against an FSU front which keys a defense allowing just 259 yards a game and a total of just nine touchdowns all season. Tackle Travis Johnson is the best Florida has seen this year and has racked up 16.5 tackles for loss. Charles Howard and Chauncey Davis bring more pressure and the linebacker corps is superb. FSU has recorded 37 quarterback sacks, and defensive backs Pat Watkins and Antonio Cromartie each have four interceptions.
It's kind of a shame FSU's offense even has to take the field, because when they do, the level of play all over the field will drop considerably. Still, Florida's defensive line must hold up against a big, experienced Seminoles offensive line and put pressure on quarterbacks Wyatt Sexton and Chris Rix both of whom are likely to play. A real key will be the play of UF tackles Ray McDonald and Marcus Thomas.
The first three games I saw at Doak Campbell Stadium were all Florida wins. Never would have imagined that my next eight trips would result in seven losses and the worst tie I ever suffered through as a broadcaster. The Gators have a chance to put a strange exclamation point on a bizarre season with a win Saturday night, so why not? Florida 17-16.
Gator Country Gets National Recognition
Television networks, newspapers, local TV outlets and more have been mentioning Gator Country for our reporting of the apparently inevitable merger of the Gator football program and Coach Urban Meyer. While the parties of the first part (coach, athletic director, president) deny any deal has been done, that doesn't make us wrong OR them dishonest.
Back-channel communications are how these arrangements are put in place long before a formal meeting occurs or an offer extended. In politics it's called plausible deniability. Those back channels often involve attorneys, agents, third parties (media, headhunters, former colleagues) and even family members. No coach wants to be embarrassed, no school wants to look foolish, so by the time officials sit down with the coach in question, both sides are well aware of the other's plans, desires and demands.
Gator Country did an excellent job following up on this story, exploring back-channel communications and generating the picture we accurately painted for you this week. Things could change, that's always a possibility. But at this point in time, there is very little doubt in Gainesville or Salt Lake City that Urban Meyer will be the next coach of the Florida Gators.
Stoops Steps In It
I had a great relationship with Bobby Stoops when he was in Gainesville and have unlimited respect for his abilities and accomplishments. But the Oklahoma Head Coach made a mistake when he accused ESPN commentators of boosting up Auburn as the number-two team because of the Network's contract with the SEC. Not only is it an absurd allegation considering the parent company owns ABC which is the primary TV partner of the Big Twelve Conference; it also creates some animosity where none existed by questioning the integrity of the individuals involved.
It's a tough call among the top three teams and I could easily argue for one over the other. Why Southern Cal has such a huge lead in the polls is anyone's guess, since the Trojans are the only one of the three to get clearly outplayed for an entire game (California) only to escape with a win. Us BCS haters will root like the dickens for all three to win out… and Utah and Boise State too. The more schools/conferences that get shortchanged by this goofy system, the more votes might be available for some sort of playoff.
Say It Ain't So Steve!
Steve Spurrier's flirtation with South Carolina is no big deal. Everyone likes to be wanted (from what I hear) and the Head Ball Coach is no exception. But S-O-S in South Carolina to me would be a sad, sad thing.
Ever since January of 2002 the one thing I have been certain of is that Spurrier would never take a job where he would have to coach against the Gators. Steve's affection for UF is legendary as is his status with UF faithful from age three to ninety-three. He would never tarnish that for a short fling with a conference rival. Would he?
Well, apparently he might. The idea of him lining up against UF is nauseating. If it happens, it happens. But until then, I keep hoping the most significant figure in the history of Florida Football comes to the realization that it's just not worth it in the long run.
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Have a great week.